Amin Kef Sesay: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 May 2022:
Last week, the Speaker of Parliament had to adjourn a session for nearly half an hour in a bid to separate feuding SLPP and APC MPs. Reports say that the two sides almost went into physical blows.
It is a fact that since the transfer of power from the APC to the ruling SLPP in April 2018, there has been a wave of protests, walkouts, boycotts and low-level violence between the two main political parties both inside and outside Parliament.
Four years since President Julius Maada Bio defeated the incumbent in general elections and took office, Sierra Leone’s political scene is fraught with tensions, especially after the Bio-led ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) gradually took control of the country’s parliament from the All People’s Congress (APC) by nullifying swathes of election results through the courts.
APC demonstrated against the Government’s attempt to remove over a dozen of its MPs for alleged electoral malpractice, with all the APC’s 68 MPs walking out of Parliament in protest.
The change of government also led to several APC officials, from low to high-level bureaucrats across various Ministries, Departments and Agencies sacked from their jobs by the incoming SLPP government.
At the core of much political tension is the Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate corruption between September 2007 and April 2018 under the APC government.
In April 2018, a transition report named various former APC government ministers and public officials accused of corruption, which was followed by several high-level arrests, including former Ministers, an Ambassador and Bank Director.
Sierra Leone’s fraught politics and ongoing low-level violence pose serious concerns, though for the moment it is relatively being contained.
For now, the ruling SLPP appears to have the upper hand. And despite political tensions, Sierra Leone’s broader stability seems not to be under threat.
Looking ahead, however, there may also emerge new sources of friction which if not taken seriously by the government and the International Community ahead of the 2023 elections, could result in political violence and breakdown of law and order, as was seen in Kenya after its last two general elections.